Dr Mary Bousted, Joint General Secretary of the NEU, said:

“Since before the pandemic NEU members have been concerned about the excessive, unnecessary reliance on one form of assessment for most GCSEs and A-levels - exams taken entirely at the end of the course. They’ve also been concerned about the way in which grades are handed out - as a competition between students rather than based on what students themselves show they can do – and the rationing of success that comes with it.

"The pandemic has exposed these issues further and shown that it is possible to award grades differently. Whilst the unmanageable workload caused by late government action on contingencies during the pandemic is not a model for the future, it is clear that alternative methods of assessment are possible and, with proper planning, could be delivered in a way which does not impact workload.

"Many voices in education are calling for changes to qualifications in the 14-19 phase, in particular to GCSEs and A Levels. The Independent Assessment Commission brought together parents, students, teachers, leaders, employers, academics and assessment experts. All these groups agreed that fundamental improvements to assessment and qualifications in England are needed.

"NEU members are calling on the government to create assessments which move away from the old fashioned, one-size-fits-all approach of relying solely on terminal written exams and which better align with what will actually be relevant for life, work and citizenship in the twenty-first century.”


Note to editors

We are currently in Bournemouth for our Annual Conference (11-14 April), during which time you will receive a higher number of press releases than usual.  

The Conference Press Office can be reached on 07879 480 061. You can also email the press officer at caroline.cowie@neu.org.uk  

Our conference agenda is available here

The hashtag for Annual Conference is #NEU2022 

  • The National Education Union stands up for the future of education. It brings together the voices of more than 450,000 teachers, lecturers, support staff and leaders working in maintained and independent schools and colleges across the UK, to form the largest education union in Europe. 
  • It is an independent, registered trade union and professional association, representing its members in England, Wales, Northern Ireland, Scotland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. 

The National Education Union is affiliated to the Trades Union Congress (TUC), European Trade Union Committee for Education (ETUCE) and Education International (EI). It is not affiliated to any political party and seeks to work constructively with all the main political parties.